Vitamin D is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. While it’s importance for bone health has long been known, current research is finding that sub-optimal vitamin D is implicated in many disease states, especially for pregnant women, their unborn children and their nursing infants. That begs the question of what is a healthy amount of vitamin D and is it the same for everyone?
In November the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommended that a 3-pound infant and a 300-pound pregnant woman needed almost the same amount of vitamin D. Although 400 IU/day may be a reasonable dose for infants, the recommended 600 IU/day for pregnant women is gravely low according to current research. It is currently estimated that tens of millions of pregnant women and their nursing babies are severely vitamin D deficient resulting in a dramatic increase of the dark ages disease, rickets. Gestational vitamin D deficiency is associated with rickets, neonatal pneumonia, doubled risk for preeclampsia, tripled risk for gestational diabetes and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section. Although this dramatically low level of vitamin D is common, it is not normal or healthy for anyone.
Low vitamin D levels are associated with three childhood epidemics: asthma, autoimmune disorders and, according to a 2010 article in article in Acta Paediatrica (world’s most respected pediatric medical journal), autism. It is thought that pregnant and lactating women should take at least 5,000 IU/day. This significantly higher amount not only prevents rickets, but current research indicates it will also address health issues surrounding: brain, eye, prostate, breast, skin, nerve, immune, and heart health, mood, and most importantly fetal health.
Interestingly, the FNB indicated that vitamin D toxicity might occur at intakes of 10,000 IU/day; however there is not any evidence that 10,000 IU/day has ever caused toxicity in humans. In fact, 30 minutes of summer sunshine gives adults more than 10,000 IU of vitamin D!
It is always smart to have your vitamin D level checked via blood a few times a year as it can fluctuate. For optimal health, your vitamin D level should fall within 50-80 ng/ml. If your vitamin D level is low, as it is for more than 50% of people living North of Atlanta, Georgia, you may want to consider increasing your vitamin D intake or your sun exposure. This is most important for pregnant and lactating women. The 50-80 ng/ml level is optimal and was obtained by humans who live and work in the sun. You cannot achieve this level with current recommendations and even our mile high altitude does not compensate during the winter months.
Vitamin D, while technically a hormone, is one of the most significant vitamins in our body. Maintaining an optimal level reduces our risk of many health complications. The FNB is clearly stuck in the past where the focus of vitamin D was bone health. Do yourself and your family a favor by checking and optimizing your vitamin D levels by working with your health professional.
What do you want from 2011?
There are many thoughts out there on how we can be healthier, happier and prevent disease and sickness. One of the more popular approaches is cleansing, or fasts that help to reset our body’s metabolism and detoxify our organ systems. I strongly believe that there is such a thing as a healthy cleans’ versus a fad approach that may eventually do more harm than good. Why would cleansing help our bodies? Every day millions of toxins are voluntarily or involuntarily ingested into our body and we must somehow process and eliminate these toxins or face the metabolic consequences. A cleanse that helps us get rid of toxins is a bit like regular car maintenance. Hopefully we change our fluids regularly and put in the extra money and time to keep our vehicles running smoothly. Shouldn’t we take this approach with our own health? There are many theories on how to cleanse and it can be tough to pick and choose what is right for our bodies. If you were considering incorporating a cleanse into your New Year’s resolution or are looking for ways to stay healthy in 2011, here are a few ideas on what I do.
- Drink 2x the water you normally consume. A better way might be to fill two large water bottles and make sure they are empty (>64oz H20) by the end of the day
- Support your blood sugar by eating every 2-3 hours. Remember, if you tend to get upset, light headed, shaky or irritable between meals,then setting an alarm on your phone is an effective way to keep your blood sugar up.
- Invest in organic produce and meat. This is one of the ways we ingest toxins and if you would like more information on what foods to purchase organic versus conventional please use this website: http://www.foodnews.org/methodology.php
- Exercise 3 times a week. This is a realistic goal and really can be nothing more than a 30-minute walk in your neighborhood or a great local trail!
- Invest in a medical food that functions to facilitate detoxification while also stabilizing blood sugar through high quality protein (We carry over 5 different pharmaceutical grade products in the office).
- Add in fiber at 4-10 grams per day to bind to released toxins during the cleanse and a pharmaceutical grade pro-biotic (not over the counter!).
- Consult your Doctor! Your doctor should be able to help you set realistic goals and give you the support you need during your program.
If you feel miserable than your not doing it right! It’s not your fault but most likely you are not efficiently removing the toxins that you have started releasing into your body. Tweaking the program can help alleviate this!
Try to set some realistic goals like I want to have more energy in the morning’ or ‘I would like to lose 15 pounds’, write them down and post them where you can see them. My goal for my January detoxification program is to have consistent energy throughout my day even though I have a busy practice and a 9 month old to keep up with! If you are interested in setting up a custom program that can help your 2011 health goals please contact Dr. Autoimmune.
Let Your Health Soar,
Dr. Ian Hollaman